Metro Weekly

Madison, Wis., City Council passes ban on youth conversion therapy

Over 40 municipalities nationwide have sought to curb similar practices

Madison City Hall – Photo: Corey Coyle, via Wikimedia.

On Tuesday, the Madison City Council voted to ban the practice of conversion therapy on LGBTQ-identifying youth, reports the Wisconsin State Journal.

The ban will prohibit licensed therapist and counselors from charging a fee for therapies or treatments that attempt to forcibly change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, “including efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same gender.”

Therapists who are found to have deliberately violated the ban can be censured or threatened with the loss of their license. 

Supporters note that studies have shown conversion therapy may cause psychological harm to LGBTQ youth, and put them at higher risk of depression, suicidal ideation, and substance abuse.

“Conversion therapy is not based in science of health care, but instead in a belief that non-traditional sexual orientations and gender identities are inherently wrong and need to be corrected,” Austin Kieler, the chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin’s LGBT Caucus.

The Madison City Council’s decision comes on the heels of a similar vote by the Milwaukee City Council to ban the practice of conversion therapy on youth in March.

“No child should be subjected to abuse — and that’s exactly what this dangerous, discredited practice of so-called ‘conversion therapy’ really is,” Wendy Strout, the Wisconsin State Director for the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement. “That’s why this abusive practice has been condemned by every major medical and mental health organization, and why 14 states and Washington, D.C. have taken action to protect minors from conversion therapy.”

In addition to Madison, at least 40 other municipalities have voted to ban the practice of conversion therapy on minors. Similar laws or regulations curbing the practice have passed in 13 states, and are expected to be signed into law by Delaware’s governor in the coming months.

John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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